Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The near-kidnapped story you asked for

I have had requests wanting to know more about my "near-kidnapping" experience. Here it is.

The following is a journal entry I had made after a frightening day (and night) in Egypt several years ago. We were with a group of BYU study abroad students who had all been anticipating the horse and camel ride to the pyramids at sunset:

..."The whole group signed up to ride. Kirk found a guide that had a whole slew of "well trained" horses ready to take us. Hannah was opposed to the idea and told me so all day. I kind of wanted to go, so I talked her in to a "slow, calm" horse insisting we'd walk side by side the whole way. I promised. 

Oh my heart! We got to the stables and out came these huge stallions prancing around. Hannah started crying. Levi was the first one on and we should have gotten a clue when just a few minutes later he cam walking back down the trail (with that grin smeared across his face) saying he needed a "different horse". He downplayed the fact that he had just been bucked off, because he didn't want to scare Hannah. The guide calmed Hannah and put us both on our horses. Two ten-year old boys grabbed our horses by their bridles and we were off. Half of the group were on camels, the other half on horses as we headed up the trail. Kirk was last to saddle up and shocked us all as he came speeding by as if the posse were chasing him. He was hollering and pulling back on both reins, the camera (my camera) was bouncing around his neck and we all held our breaths waiting for him to fall. His horse bucked and turned around and sped back past us all nearly brushing him off against the stucco wall off to the side. I don't know how he hung on, but he did, and he too got a different horse. (I'm thinking seriously that they gave him the horse Levi started with.)  We settled into our hike up the trail, Hannah was smiling and even let her horse trot a bit. I on the other hand, had not been smiling. My horse was a "show horse" I later learned. He was spooked by everything, and everyone. He’d pull back on his haunches, snort and ninnie, and start dancing in an effort to rid himself of this annoyance riding on his back. "Goumah" (one of the locals spear heading this trek)  went speeding by on his horse. My horse thought he should follow, so we bucked and danced some more.  Goumah came back, winked at me and called me Habbibi. (My baby). People say that all the time, it doesn't really mean anything, but for some reason this gave me the creeps.

Night began to settle in quickly as we started on the trail that led to the top of the hill overlooking the pyramids. Goumah seemed to always be near me somehow. He wanted to talk to me, or he'd run ahead and then before I knew it, he'd be back by my side grinning and trying to get my horse to trot. I wanted nothing to do with any of that. I was as scared as Hannah with this high-strung, huge black stallion that could read my mind! We all made it to the pyramids. Cool. Nice. Sunset at the pyramids... The sun started going down and I was anxious to get back. I was hoping to get back before dark, but that wasn't going to be.

I'm not sure what happened next exactly, but I grew increasingly more frightened. Goumah rode up next to us again, and told my little horse boy to hold my horse back, I think because the horse was so jumpy. But my mind started thinking the worst and I felt this awful feeling deep inside that I was going to be kidnapped and taken out into the dessert never to be seen again. I honestly don't think that was a totally crazy idea, because it happens, and girls are warned about this quite often. 

I watched the others in our group riding further and further ahead of me fading into the dark as they disappeared over the hill. My horse was still misbehaving and I was sick of it, not to mention quite sore. I wanted to get off and walk. I wanted to run really. I wanted to catch up with my group.I didn't want to be left behind. Goumah encouraged Hannah's horse to trot, and she was relaxing and enjoying the ride. Her horse boy was darling and led her carefully toward the others. But they were much faster than I was, and they too began to disappear.  Then as if things weren't scary enough, Goumah shows up again, he's trying to talk in English to me, but he's bad at it...and I'm worse at Arabic, and I don't even want to talk to him. But before I realized what was happening, he had climbed off of his horse, threw my little horse boy up onto his horse, and sent them both trotting back to the stables into the ever growing darkness. I felt my last hope of rescue was in that little boy galloping away.  Okay, now I'm seriously in trouble. It's pitch black, Goumah is walking my horse, and we are no longer even on the path everyone else was on. Me, the horse and Goumah in the black of night. I thought about kicking my horse real hard hoping he would take off on a sprint for home. Would I be able to hang on? Could I lose Goumah? I told him I wanted to get off. I wanted to walk over to that same trail I saw the last horse go over. "NO, no, it's okay, you stay..." I really wasn't sure what I was going to do next, but I knew this feeling in my gut was real, and I knew I had to do something. With every step I felt more and more panic.  Then miraculously, up over that hill I saw a shadow of a person. It was our tour guide. He yells out "BYU!?" Goumah said nothing. Again, "any more BYU?!" I didn’t want to scream and scare my horse, but  I screamed anyway,  "Yes!!! I am BYU! We are coming!" Goumah turned the big horse I was on toward the voice and started making his way slowly back to the trail. As we came nearer to that hill, I insisted on getting off my horse. I slid my leg over and jumped off the animal and started walking away as fast as I could.

I walked right into Levi. He had been worried that I wasn't back yet. He came looking for me! I could've cried. Really. In fact one of the questions Goumah asked me was how big was our BYU group. After I told him 30 plus, I wished I hadn't. In a group of 35 it might take awhile before you notice someone is missing. Now I've probably blown this out of proportion, maybe he were just trying to keep my horse calm by holding it back. But I didn't feel a bit good about it, and Levi was concerned enough to come looking for me. Which is what I was praying for riding there in the dark, "please let someone realize I'm not there". 

So maybe it's not really a story of a near kidnapping. Maybe it's a story of following that still small voice that can warn us of danger, and guide us to safety. I'm grateful my son was listening. 


  1. A gripping story! I felt myself holding my breath for you. I'm glad you are okay and grateful for the spirit. Love you too much!

  2. Also, I'm glad I found your blog! :)

  3. Hi,
    The bobby is so beautiful,so kite.............
    Desert tours Morocco

  4. I'm with Katie. I held my breath the entire time. That Goober or who ever was NOT trying to keep your horse calm. Anyone that knows anything about horses knows they are a herd animal and don't want to be left behind. Sure way of getting a horse to buck/misbehave is to hold them back while the rest of the group takes off. Every horse no matter how well trained will have a fit of sorts when the rest of the herd leaves.

    CREEPY!!! I'm glad you listened to the still small voice and that your prayer was answered. Shudder.........